Malawi civil society challenged to be transparent: NGO law to be reviewed

President Peter Mutharika has called for transparency and accountability from civil society organisations (CSOs) to ensure that the corruption is not entertained.

Mutharika encouraged NGOs to be “accountable”  especially in the way they manage results from various programs and the way they manage funds in various institutions.

“We need to root out corruption not only in the public service, but also in the civil society, NGO sector, as well as in the private sector,” said Mutharika on Friday during the launch of the NGO Corporate Governance Charter in Lilongwe.

Mutharika said NGOs should be internally well governed, transparent and accountable.

He said CSOs have an “important role” to partner with government in fighting cashgate and corruption.

“My government has committed to get to the bottom of the cashgate and we will not shield anybody,” said Mutharika.

President Mutharika also pointed out that his administration prioritizes the review of the NGO law “as one step towards increasing the space of civil society and also as a step towards ensuring more capacity building for NGOs.”

He said the review of the NGO law is also aimed at” improving internal NGO governance and make the law more responsive to the needs and realities of NGOs. “

According to the Malawi leader, the NGO law review exercise will help to strengthen the compliance monitoring capacity of the NGO Board of Malawi; strengthen the independence of the NGO Board; and strengthen the incentive package to the NGO community among others.

Voice Mhone:  Hopeful

Voice Mhone: Hopeful

“To this effect a joint road map among Government, CONGOMA and NGO Board will be developed to facilitate the NGO law review process,” he said.

But civil society lobbies fear the new NGO law will  entrench oppression and greatly limit the operations of NGOs.

One activist who spoke to Nyasa Times noted that the new law will have  everything to do with the “paranoia of government and its desire to control and monitor virtually all aspects of life.”

Government insiders say  there plans for Intelligence agency to w be legally mandated to monitor civil society while the President’s Office to have a say in reviewing requests to carry out research through various government departments.

There are mechanism to have the civil society to be constantly kept under state surveillance.

Advisor to the President on NGOs, Mavuto Bamusi, said the President was aware that CSOs were partners in development, and would improve the working relationship between his administration and the CSOs.

Voice Mhone, Chairperson of the Council for Nongovernmental Organisation in Malawi (CONGOMA) said the review of the NGO law will help and create an opportunity for activist  to actively participate in the economic activities of the country.

. We are hopeful that the new law will provide a conducive atmosphere for non public organisations thereby allowing them to realise their roles and take decisive part in developing the Malawi nation.

Mhone further said the review of the law will help in guiding the operations of the NGOs and prevent some of these organisations to be used by politicians.

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